The Albuquerque Journal announced that the Pecos Benedictine Monastery was having an open house. I attended and discovered a quiet place to visit. It has about a dozen monks and numerous volunteers. They support themselves by holding retreats and by allowing private retreats. Look at their web page; pecosmonastery.org. Trappist monks bought the place in 1947. It has been transferred to several religious orders since then ending up as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey today.
The Abbey is about 20 miles from Santa Fe, NM in the small town of Pecos. The Catholic Church in Pecos dates back to 1862. This is rural Northern, New Mexico, midway between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM.
There are numerous guest rooms, several chapels, a library and of course friendly monks. There is a common room with wi-fi and they have the necessary equipment for retreats.
The bedrooms are simple, but fancier than what I imagined a monk’s cell to be like; having seen a few in Europe. They have private baths, a desk and a closet. No phones, no TV’s; just the simple basics. This is a monastic place.
The Abbey has 1000 acres; of which about 4o can be planted and used for buildings. That leaves about 960 acres along the Pecos River for contemplation.
We did not stay overnight; however, if you want to and if you take the AARP discount, it is $67.50 per night and that includes three meals and all the quiet you want. There are common areas with WiFi and each room has a desk. It will be a great place to get caught up on a blog.
It is not for everyone; however, if you are the geezer’s age, overwhelmed by this electronic society, and looking for a new social setting, there is something relaxing about the place.
I couldn’t help but compare it to long-term care facilities that I have visited; and, at some future point, if they would have me, I would much prefer to live at the Abbey, rather than an in-town assisted living facility. There is plenty to do and it might give some purpose and meaning to the end of life.
Anyway, you might want to try it; or any monastery. Most take guests, even in Europe, and they are all over, need the money and certainly need volunteers.
Small communities are show cases for history, genealogy and crafts. Huntington, NY is no exception. On a recent visit, I attended a “Sheep to Shawl Festival” in Huntington offered by the Huntington Historical Society. This was on a Sunday afternoon in May and held at one of the Society’s properties, the 1795 Dr Daniel W Kissam House. Dr. Kissam had a stroke; so, he had the room next to his examining room converted into a bedroom and apparently continued to treat patients as he was able. This was around 1800.
The volunteers are full of stories about their ancestors; and, of course, they dress the part.
There was a free tour of the house, barn and other outbuildings. The Society had tables for crafts; staffed by a large number of talented quilters and artists who made things as they did 200 years ago. It was fascinating; especially when you consider that old people are fascinated with their past and with the things people made on their own.
There was a sewing machine that a young boy made; simple and pedal operated but it still worked. There was a lady shearing sheep; people weaving; and, a man who was into wood carving making small, simple whistles.
The society has numerous events over the year and several properties that you can visit. It also sponsors a genealogy workshop that includes and annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
The point is that I spent an interesting and educational Sunday afternoon.
I learned how simply people lived two hundred years ago and met people who were recreating history. There was even a revolutionary war contingent that had set up camp across the street; cooking in a dutch oven and firing their muskets, much to the delight of children.
You can find these Exhibits and programs in towns all across the US; and, they are worthy of a visit. They are local and done with a passion that you don’t find elsewhere.
You could travel across the US on your own mobile American History Course; and, with a little work, could make it reflect your ancestors and their place in American History. You can even start at Ellis Island.
You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?
I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.
Share a plate. Old people eat less. Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.
I have tried the following:
1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.
2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.
3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.
4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.
5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.
6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.
7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.
9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.
10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.
11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM.
12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.
Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.
After 70, there are 10 things that you should master. Don’t just say you can do it, practice it until you can teach it.
1. USE Google Maps, with voice commands, on your smart phone. If you drive you need to know where you are going without trying to follow the small print on a map, guessing, or trying to look at the GPS.
2. INVEST in index funds. I am not competent to determine which stocks are best, and probably never was. Index funds are cheap and beat over 70% of mutual fund returns.
3. AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS. Your utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc. should be paid automatically out of your bank account or by credit card, if you are after FF miles. You can’t remember everything. Especially your long-term care insurance – you don’t want that to lapse. You don’t want to incur late fees. Check your bank account frequently to make sure the payments have been made.
4. USE E-MAIl. Everyone does it and you should too. My short-term memory is such, that it is good to have in writing. Make sure you remember your e-mail password; and, have it written down at home.
5. SMART PHONE. Get the simplest one possible and learn how to use it. If you get an apple, you can go to the Genius Bar where they will teach you anything; even, if you are so old you can’t learn. Keep apps at a minimum, know how to use them and know why you have them
6. QUICK MEDICAL CARE. You don’t need the emergency room just because you are old; unless you are dying, you will sit there for hours and end up feeling like a fool. Go to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, urgent care, or maybe even Wal-Mart. They have triage nurses/caregivers who can either fix you up quickly and cheaply, or call an ambulance, at a fraction of the cost. These are quicker and cheaper than emergency rooms. Have them check your drug list and see if anything looks funny. Old people take too many meds. They are the worst form of addicts and they don’t even realize it.
7. KEEP LISTS. I carry a 3 x 5 Day-timer. Pasted inside the cover is a list of phone numbers, a list of the meds I take, including non-prescription ones, and a list of my kids names, addresses and telephone numbers. Pasted on the cover is a business card with my name, address, telephone number, cell phone number and e-mail address. It is quick and simple. You should also have lists of bank accounts, credit cards, payments, etc. in a fairly secure place so that your kids can find them. Show the list of drugs to you pharmacist every time you go in; and, to your doctor. Remember, as far as meds are concerned, less is more.
8. GO SLOW. If you are old, it seems people want to rush you, especially if it involves a financial decision. There in no need to hurry. You have lived more that 70 years and can afford to slow down; especially if it will benefit you.
9. KNOW THAT YOU ARE OLD. Old age is about changes. Don’t fight them, consider them problems to be solved (or opportunities). You solved other problems over the last 70+ years. Prepare. Have a buddy who watches out for you.
10. BASIC EXERCISE. This is the most important. Have a basic exercise plan, even if it is only walking around the block every day. Walk, lift weights, stretch. You know you are going to die, but until then, you might as well feel as good as possible and exercise will help. If you see a physical therapist, ask him/her for a list of basic exercises and keep at it.
These are 10 things that you should know how to do, and do. Forget that you are old. Learn!
Sources of help:
1. Dummies books from Amazon.com
2. Senior centers
5. Other old people. Get together for coffee once a week and find out how other old people are dealing with problems
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
I am 73. I need clothing that I can wear everyday and everywhere, that is cheap, that is always acceptable and that can be washed. I do not want to check it when flying. I want to hoist it into an overhead bin by myself. I don’t want to worry about theft.
I have chosen black walking shoes, sandals, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 turtle-necks, 2 shirts, 7 socks, underpants t-shirts and handkerchiefs. I have one blazer and one hooded rain jacket. All, except for the blazer can be washed together, in one load. Everything is black. There is room for miscellaneous items.
It all fits on me and in the 14″x18″x12″ bag in the picture. I can go on an archeological dig, eat at a four-star restaurant, attend a wedding or a funeral, attend a concert and live out the rest of my life in a long-care facility with nothing more than what is on me and in the bag.
It is cheap, universal and requires no thought. It is easily replaced. It gives me a unique, but acceptable, appearance, and not an offensive one.